US national security advisor discusses Ukraine with Finnish, other Nordic officials

Hiski Haukkala, Chief of Cabinet in President Sauli Niinistö's office, represented Finland in US-Nordic talks amid rising tensions over Ukraine.

Finland was represented in the discussion by Hiski Haukkala, Secretary General and Chief of Cabinet in the President's Office, seen here in mid-2020. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle

US President Joe Biden's National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, discussed the Ukraine situation with representatives of Finland and the four other Nordic countries on Tuesday.

According to a White House statement, Sullivan spoke with his counterparts from the Nordic countries "to consult on ways to strengthen Transatlantic security" and about "their readiness to impose severe consequences on Russia if it engages in further aggression against Ukraine".

Finland was represented in the discussion by Hiski Haukkala, Secretary General and Chief of Cabinet in the President's Office, according to a tweet from President Sauli Niinistö's office. Haukkala has served as Professor of International Relations at Tampere University alongside various senior posts at the Foreign Ministry, the President's Office and the Finnish Institute of International Affairs.

The White House said the talks "underscored the importance of diplomacy to de-escalate the situation, including through the Strategic Stability Dialogue, Nato-Russia Council, and OSCE" while "participants reaffirmed the right of each country to choose its alliances".

Niinistö, Marin raise Nato membership

Finland and Sweden are close partners of the US-led Nato alliance but not members, unlike the other three Nordic countries, which are Denmark, Iceland and Norway.

In New Year's speeches, Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) both mentioned that Finland retains the option of joining Nato if it so desires. On Monday Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto(Green) said it was important that Biden had reaffirmed US support for Ukrainian independence and territorial integrity.

Sullivan and Haukkala held one-on-one talks in September, when the US security advisor thanked Finland for its support during the evacuation of Kabul the previous month. According to a read-out, the two also discussed cooperation on Arctic issues and "efforts to forge more constructive relations with Russia where possible, while remaining vigilant against any destabilising actions".